Nanaimo couple’s retirement plans on hold after leaking oil tank discovered


WATCH: A well-known Nanaimo midwife has a cautionary tale for homeowners and home buyers tonight. She and her partner bought a house in 2011 and they were planning to sell this year to retire. But a leaking oil tank they didn’t even know existed was discovered. And the cost of remediation is going to be a quarter million dollars. Kendall Hanson reports.

This home was going to be their retirement nest egg but now it will cost them much of their life’s savings.

“We’re stuck and there’s nothing we can do,” said Robert Bauer, the home’s owner. “We can’t just leave it and once you start down this remediation process you just have to keep going.”

Robert Bauer and partner Sandy Pullen bought this home in 2011. Pullen used it for her midwifery practice but they are ready to retire and put the home up for sale.

A prospective buyer asked for an underground assessment.

That inspection revealed an oil tank that was leaking.

“I had no idea there was such a thing as an underground oil tank,” said Pullen.

They weren’t made aware of the tank when they purchased the property.

“At first it wasn’t so worrisome,” said Pullen. “The neighbours had removed theirs for $20,000. That didn’t seem so bad and then it was going to be maybe $70,000 and then $100,000 and now we’re up to $250,000 so my possibility of retirement has gone. I’m going to have to work for the next five years.”

The company doing the remediation work says this is one of the biggest residential cleanups it’s dealt with.

“The biggest thing is trying to do your due diligence before you purchase the property,” said Keith Miller of Wittach Environmental Services. “Make sure you get a good underground locate done cause once you purchase it it’s harder to obtain the financing to deal with it after the fact.”

Their insurance, like most policies, doesn’t cover pollution.

Their only recourse is to try and sue the home’s former owners.

“They’ve sold it and moved on and apparently from what we hear you can get judgements against these people but then collecting the money is a civil matter so it’s very difficult,” said Bauer.

“So my possibility of retirement has gone and now I’m going to have to work for the next five years,” said Pullen.

A friend has set up a GoFundMe to help the couple out.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!